The AmDTuning.com team will return to action in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend at Oulton Park after a monumental effort saw its Ford Focus repaired in time for the fourth meeting of the season.
Round three at Thruxton last month ended in disaster for the West Thurrock-based team after a huge accident in qualifying caused extensive damage to the car, with driver Mike Bushell lucky to escape with nothing more than severe ligament damage.
Recent weeks have seen the team working around the clock to repair the Ford for this weekend’s event in Cheshire, with a new engine and new gearbox both needing to be fitted once repair work on the shell had been completed.
That the car will be in action this weekend is down in no small part to the dedicated support of a number of BTCC fans, who raised more than £10,000 through a crowdfunding initiative in less than 24 hours to aid with the repair bill.
Tunbridge Wells racer Mike has been cleared to return to action by medics having recovered sufficiently from his injuries - with concerns over a previous heart condition also proving to be unfounded.
The reigning Clio Cup champion will now seek to reignite his campaign after two tough weekends on track even though a grid penalty - which will see him drop to the back of the field for race one - leaves him somewhat on the back foot going into the weekend.
However, with new regulations in place this season set to aid him in his bid to bounce back from the penalty, Mike makes the trip north in confident mood.
“I’d say I probably feel like I’m about 95% fit as I still have some discomfort, but I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel this weekend,” he said. "The last two meetings just didn’t go to plan and for me, Oulton Park is where my season really starts.
"I don’t think I’ve had chance to display what I’m capable of in the BTCC yet this year, and I want show why I won the Clio title last year. I’m not going into the weekend to just make up the numbers despite my penalty, as I feel we’ll have a quick car that will allow me to set a good lap time in race one - which will then decide my starting slot for race two. If we can get into the top 15 on the grid, then we can aim for more in race three.
"This is a big weekend for me and I have to thank the team for the hard work they’ve put in to fix the car, and of course the fans who have supported me. It’s one thing for people to say they will back you when something happens like the accident at Thruxton, but I didn’t expect so many to then actually do it.
“It was amazing to see the support there is, and it’s no joke to say that without that backing, I wouldn’t be on track this weekend.”
Team boss Shaun Hollamby admitted it had been a huge effort from both the team and its various suppliers to get the car ready for the fourth meeting of the year; agreeing that the fan support had been crucial in everything falling into place.
“Without doubt, the crowdfunding idea that Mike had was absolutely key in us pulling everything together for Oulton Park,” he said. "The response was overwhelming and we’re looking forward to thanking each and every person who got involved in the coming weeks and months.
"AmD team manager Rob Tickner and the boys have done a brilliant job to repair the car, but we couldn’t have done it without the support of our partners and suppliers; all of whom stepped up to the plate. Motorbase did a great job of repairing the damage to the shell, Mountune and Xtrac provided us with a new engine and gearbox, and GPRM got all the NGTC parts we needed.
“We’re aiming to do a shakedown en-route to Oulton Park to check everything over and then we just want a trouble-free weekend with three race finishes. Even though we’ve been out of luck in recent events, Mike has shown the pace that is in the car and hopefully we can show that again when we get to the race weekend.”